It can be hard to decide what to buy when grocery shopping. The number of options are overwhelming, and trying to decide what’s a “good” choice — in terms of your own health and that of the planet — could make a person with even the best intentions give up and reach for the same go-to items. But there are some uncomplicated ways to pick foods that are healthy for your family and the world.
Here are five sustainable food swaps to make it easy to get started.
Buy your produce at a local farmer’s market
Grocery store produce travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach you. That uses up a lot of gas, and all that transit time can mean it might not be super fresh. When you buy your produce at your local farmers market instead, you support local farmers and get fresher, better tasting veggies.
Switch to oatmilk in your coffee
Adding cow milk to your coffee nearly doubles its negative environmental impact. It takes a lot of water and energy to raise dairy cows. If you switch to oatmilk, you’ll cut your impact in half. Oatmilk also has more fiber and less fat than dairy, and it takes much less water and pesticides to make than almond milk.
Swap out white bread for whole wheat
Compared to white bread, whole wheat bread contains more fiber and nutrients, so it’s better for your digestion and overall health. Whole wheat flour needs less processing than white flour, so it also uses less energy, making it better for the planet.
Swap your asparagus for some broccoli
Asparagus is healthy and delicious, but it needs 258 gallons of water to grow one pound, as compared to 34 gallons per pound for broccoli. The switch will lower your water footprint, and you’ll benefit from broccoli’s cancer-protective compounds.
Swap your meat dish for beans
People who eat less meat and more beans are less likely to suffer from heart disease due to the added fiber and potassium. If a family of four eats beans instead of meat once a week, it would have the effect of taking your car off the road for five weeks. And a can of beans is usually anywhere from a quarter to a tenth of the price of a pound of meat.